Following the closure of the Department of Correctional Service’s (DCS) headquarters by the mayor of Tshwane on Wednesday, 12 September 2018, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) has been in engagements with the DCS management and its members based at the DCS head offices in Pretoria.
The building was closed due to lack of compliance in relation to regulations governing fire; that in the event of fire, emergency services would not be able to pull up water to extinguish the fire because the sprinkler booster is not working.
In their reasoning, the City of Tshwane did not include the fact that there are faulty electrical connections and that there is no water distribution within the building.
The water booster that was installed over the weekend in the department’s rush to be seen as compliant is also not working, and in terms of the minimum standards, the pressure gauge is supposed to be at 1200 k.a., but is currently running at 400k.a., meaning it is not operating at acceptable minimum standards.
There is no certificate of safety for the lifts at the building, and in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety act, the lifts must be inspected every 24 months and a certificate of safety be issued. Out of the 7 lifts, only 1 is currently working, and it is also malfunctioning.
Lastly, the building does not have a certificate of occupancy, which is supposed to be issued by the Department of Labour in declaring its safety for occupation.
Despite all these facts, in yesterday’s meeting with the DCS management and employees, the management read out an email, allegedly from the Chief Fire officer of the City of Tshwane, which claimed all matters were resolved, and then instructed all members to report to duty today. This was done without any certificate being produced whatsoever.
We took the initiative to speak to the Chief Fire officer of the City of Tshwane, Mr Phineas Masala, who confirmed to us that he could not issue a compliance certificate as the building was not yet complying with the safety regulations. This is the same individual whom in the DCS briefing of its members yesterday, they claimed he had declared the building safe for occupation.
As POPCRU, we have been mandated by our members to ensure that all safety measures are adhered to before they can enter the building, and we are doing as such.
Our lawyers have written to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, indicating that our members cannot be able to enter a hazardous building.
We have given Minister Masutha up till the end of business today to respond to all challenges raised by our members and to find alternative accommodation where members are able to work until the building meets all safety requirements.
Instead of responding to the issues raised by our lawyers, the DCS management has this afternoon issued an ultimatum to our members, demanding that they return to work within an hour or face the possibility of disciplinary charges.
We urge our members not to be intimidated, and to remain steadfast in their just actions. We value their lives and will be doing everything in our might in ensuring they are not victimised.
Issued by POPCRU on 18/09/2018